World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Living with HIV in PNG – one woman’s reality

Living with HIV in PNG – one woman’s reality

Friday 18 August, Toronto- Tiny Pauline Banis, from a small village on Papua New Guinea’s border with West Papua, first recognised AIDS related symptoms in her husband in 2002. He refused to talk to her about it, but when she became pregnant in 2003, she took an HIV test at the hospital. Despite having two more tests, she did not receive the results until December 2004, by which time both her ten-month-old baby and husband had died.

In Toronto two years later, Banis stands out in her bright yellow dress, amidst the huge crowd of 25,000 people attending the biggest ever International AIDS Conference with fierce pride and strength.

She seems undaunted by the scale of the event, where celebrities like Bill Clinton and Richard Gere wander about and where getting from one end of the conference centre to another requires battling long queues across a bridge and down seven sets of escalators.

Banis is also a survivor of domestic violence. She used to work with the health services looking after refugees from West Papua, but had to quit after repeatedly turning up to work covered in bruises.

“My husband slept around and was very aggressive towards me, yet when he died of AIDS his family blamed me and wouldn’t support me anymore,” says Banis. “They tried to take my other two children, who are HIV negative, but I wouldn’t let them.”

These days, she is a volunteer with the Sandaun Provincial AIDS Committee. She has learnt to live with the stigma of AIDS, choosing not to notice it, just as she refuses all sympathy. “I don’t want people to pity me, it makes me more embarrassed. I just get on with my life.”

Banis does not receive treatment as she says it is not available in her village, but she manages to lead a healthy life with support from her mother and sisters. “We all eat out of the same pot and they are not sick. But when I go to my neighbours or other family members, I don’t enter their houses as I know that if something ever happens to them, I will be the one they blame.”

She works hard in her garden and goes fishing to feed her three children, one of whom she adopted. When they complained of discrimination in the village, she took the matter to the district court but then could not bring herself to take out a court summons against her little nephews.

“This conference in Toronto is my first exposure to other people living with HIV and my first opportunity to share my story with others who have experienced similar situations,” says Banis. “In my village, no one has come out because of fear of discrimination.”

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

ALSO:

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC